Zack Susel — Co-Founder & Executive Director
Zack co-founded MMC at Columbia University in 2009 and led our nonprofit incorporation in 2011. He served as President of the Board from 2011 to 2018, and became Executive Director in 2020. Zack graduated with a BA in philosophy and political science from Columbia College, where he was President of the Columbia chapter, and spent a year abroad at the London School of Economics, where he launched MMC’s LSE chapter. He later oversaw our expansion to NYU. Outside of MMC, Zack oversees Asia-Pacific (ex-mainland China) marketing and investor relations for the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm. Prior to joining the D. E. Shaw group in 2013, he was an equity analyst at Farley Capital L.P., a value-oriented investment management firm. He is an enthusiastic, if somewhat rusty, amateur classical pianist and piano teacher.
Matt Siffert — Program Director
Matt is an experimental singer-songwriter. Born and raised in New York City, Matt’s music explores the intersections of folk-influenced songwriting with elements of his training in jazz and classical music. He studied at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music before moving to Nashville and launching an international performing career. Matt is devoted to public service and committed to bringing the joy of music to those who need it most.
Ricky Schweitzer – Director of Operations
Ricky graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Pre-Medical Studies and Music after spending most of his life on or near Broadway (Jason Robert Brown’s “13,” “Beauty and the Beast,” etc.). He received his Master’s of Music from Berklee’s Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program in 2017. In addition to working with MMC, Ricky also writes film scores, sings, tutors, and has recently worked as an assistant and coordinator for songwriter Toby Gad (John Legend’s “All of Me,” Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy,” and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”). Ricky managed Toby’s recording studio as well as his day-to-day life, often times assisting – or running – recording sessions. His predilection for intense melody and warm textures combined with his diverse musical influences help him provide unique insight into any musical endeavor. Ricky apologizes for writing his bio in the third person and promises that he is much more grounded in real life.
Julian Vleeschhouwer – Finance Operations Manager
Julian Vleeschhouwer is an Associate Artist Manager in the Classical Division at IMG Artists, where he works with a roster of singers, pianists, string quartets, and conductors. He graduated from Columbia University in May 2019 with a degree in Economics and Political Science. During his studies, he served as the producer of the Columbia University New Opera Workshop and worked as a programmer at WKCR-FM, New York, where he was a regular host of Saturday Night at the Opera. In addition, he joined the Columbia chapter of the Musical Mentors Collaborative in September 2015 and soon thereafter took a position on the chapter board. After graduating he joined the Board of Directors and since May 2020 has served as Treasurer of the organization.
Chy Davin – Director of Integrated Marketing
Chy Davin is a television and integrated marketing producer. As a producer she has developed and executed different mediums for campaigns, live-streams, and new media. She studied at New York University and specializes in social good, integrated marketing, and challenge development for competition television.
Alex Van Gils – Director of Music and Audio Technology
Alex Van Gils composes music for humans, instruments, and computers. He is currently captivated by notions of transition and gradient—liminal spaces and in-betweens. Alex holds a Ph. D. in Music Theory and Composition from UC Davis. His dissertation work included The Permanent, a concerto for improvising jazz saxophone and orchestra. Alex lives in Brooklyn, NY, and his active projects include XBUCKET, a performance trio featuring live-processed violin and generative video, and also a discipline of daily compositions with Max/MSP/Jitter visuals uploaded to @avg.music on instagram. Alex is a founding member of Cutelab, a place for colors and sounds in NYC.
Jesse Strauss – Grants Manager
Jesse Strauss is a grant writer, nonprofit consultant, and classical percussionist based in Nashville, TN. As a musician and lifetime music appreciator, he has most enjoyed writing for a variety of arts and cultural organizations. He currently serves as the Grants Manager for the Nashville Symphony, where he has worked in various roles since 2014, and he supports grant writing efforts at Actors Bridge Ensemble, Unmanageable Arts, Santa Monica Symphony, Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities (YEAH!), and Centennial Park Conservancy. He is equally experienced fundraising for social and human services organizations and has procured federal, state, and private funding in service areas as diverse as mental health, childcare and early education, restorative justice, and healthcare. Last year, he helped raise over $1.5 million for 15+ nonprofits. Jesse cofounded Make Music Nashville, a free day of music that brings outdoor concerts and participatory musical activities to neighborhoods around the city each year on the summer solstice. He is also the Assistant Artistic Director and percussionist for contemporary classical ensemble chatterbird. He holds a B.M. in Percussion Performance from Belmont University, where he studied under Christopher Norton.
Andrew Van Tassel — Associate Artistic Director
Andrew is an internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and composer. A recipient of the 2017 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, his bands have performed at several of New York’s most esteemed venues, including the Jazz Gallery, ShapeShifter Lab, Rockwood Music Hall, and more. Andrew holds a dual BA in Music and Economics from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and an MM in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory. Outside of his musical endeavors, he works with the operations team in investor relations for the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology firm.
Kiki She – Director of School and University Partnerships
Kiki graduated from New York University with a major in Music Business and minor in East Asian Studies. She joined Musical Mentors Collaborative at NYU in her junior year as a violin instructor and later served as its Vice-President for Fall 2020 semester. Besides dedicating her time to MMC, Kiki continues to advocate for musicians in her role as an Admin Associate in the Department of Licensing and Copyright at Reservoir Media. She specializes in YouTube CMS, Digital Licensing, and Music Maestro IP management.
Grace Takeda – Program Coordinator
Grace Takeda is a violist, educator, and creative that is a strong arts advocate and strives to use music as a tool to bring communities together. She has an extensive performing career as a violist with ensembles such as The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Yale Schola Cantorum, Juilliard Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. As an educator, she has taught classes for the California Orchestra Director’s Association and All-City Orchestra, performed numerous school concerts in and around Montreal, Philadelphia, and Angel Fire. She enjoys organizing projects and is developing her own music education classes as well as being the Curtis Institute’s String Departments’ Chamber Music Program Coordinator. Grace holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and McGill University and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.
Called “intense, precise, and full of personality” after appearing as concerto soloist with The Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall (OperaClick), Caeli Smith is an award-winning chamber musician, educator, and facilitator. She has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, The Knights, Sejong Soloists, Jordi Savall, and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra. Caeli is an alum of Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, the post-graduate performance, education, and leadership program of Carnegie Hall and The Juilliard School.
Anne Lieberwirth – Operations Manager
Anne is a musician, instructor, project manager and mother of 2 daughters. Born in Germany, Anne came to North America on a DAAD scholarship to study Jazz bass. After spending 6 years in New York City as a freelance bass player she met her husband in Toronto and moved to Canada where she started working in administration and marketing for different nonprofit music organizations. During the pandemic her career path shifted once again and she became a project manager for an animation- and digital content production company based in Germany/Ukraine. Anne holds a BA in Jazz Performance and a MA in Music Education and is interested in equalities in music education and digital learning. She now lives in Ottawa and works as Operations Manager for MMC.